Wednesday, December 13, 2006

THE CHENNAI EXPRESS

A railway station to me is one of the most fascinating places to be in.Every emotion,every reaction,even the slightest twinge of the muscle can be seen and felt at any railway station.The Secunderabad railway station is no different from any of it's fellow stations.Enter ino it during the peak evening time you will be engulfed in a sea of humanity along with it's residue 'sweat'.No deo can work wonders at railway stations unless and until say its of the kind like Ooty.The moment you enter the platform ou can see the Red army doing their job.The porters are really one of their kind.I happened to spot an old porter standing beside me and I asked him politely "Miyaan s2 coach kahan pe aayega?".Pat comes the reply "Chashme pehen ke bhi dikhta nahin hain kyaa tere ko?,woh dekh oopar woh board pe lite jal raha hain,wahan se patah kar le....".There was silence for a brief moment as he was sizing me up and I was more than relieved that his tirade was over and then as if as an after thought he says "Kandol" and quietly moves away.Well as he suggested I found s2 quite comfortably.It was then that I looked into my ticket and to my utter disgust found that my seat no was 72.Not again I cursed myself.The toilet jinx seemed to continue.How ever hard I try, beating all laws of probability my seat always ends up just beside the toilet where people come and stand all the while spitting pan or taking their shirts off to get their sweat off.No second thoughts about where all that smell goes.Right from class VII the jinx had started.My class was just next to the rest rooms(I'll refrain from saying toilet) and there it was till 10th.It was temporary respite for a couple of years during higher secondary but the jinx caught on at college.

Every train journey from then seemed to be either in seat no 1-8 or 64-72 and now I was cornered again as usual.Wondering whether I should tie a kerchief around my nose like a terrorist,I silently slipped my baggage under the seat and settled down.As it happens you always dream of having a hot chick beside you but such things happen only in movies and in Chetan Bhagat's novels.I was just scanning the people around me.There was this loud mouthed kid who was sayin things which was making me LOL.It was the chachi of that kid I guess who was repeatedly asking her "Beti,Pakistan kahan pe hain?" and that kid hardly 4 years old looks here and there as if to see whether her mom is watching her slowly whispers back "Mere skirt ke andar" and chuckles.Laughter everywhere.A hand comes out of no where and thud it lands on the child's cheek.Her mom shrieks "Bhabhi use bigadiye mat!"(Dont spoil her, as if she already isnt).The child now is really angry and she shoots back "Pakistan mere skirt ke andar hi hain,main aise hi chillaoongi".Laughter changes to howling.Her mom is left red faced in embarassment.Kids do trouble man!All this laughter was dying down slowly in the constant whirring of the engine.It was time to go.You could see faces of expectancy,anguish,fear everything around people as they sent off their beloved one's.Well atlast I thought,the train started to move late as usual by 10 minutes.Everyone was quite except for that kid who was still foul mouthing Pakistan.I was laughing silently.I dont know if all the trains would have good engine drivers but every train would definitely have a TT who would accept a bribe.That's the only advantage of sitting beside the entrance I would rather say as you can see all the under the table dealings.There was once this arguement over what TT abbreviated to and there were different full forms coming out and then came the master one.One of my friends calmly said "I know what TT is...".He gave a pause to as if signify his point and then said "Ticket Ticket".Kraaaa Thooooooooooo everyone did in unison.The ticket collector for my compartment looked more like a groundnut seller than a TT.I dint know whether he was checking tickets or selling them.As he was checking everyone's ticket he asked the 4 year old kid "beti tumhare Mummy papa kahan hain,ticket dekhna hain".Pat came the reply.Howling once again.The TT cursed himself and left.

There not many things you can do while sitting in a train and that too when you are in the stomach stirring presence of the Indian Railways toilet.So I decided it was time for music and videos.So I just slipped my Ipod on and started to watch Virrumaandi.Everything was going fine.There were some curious faces around me who were trying to fathom what it was.One guy said it was a T.V. and the other seemed to say it was a computer.People were just throwing glances at it as they crossed and went to the toilets or for a fag.It was sometime later that the mother of the kid realised that there was a way to handle her child.She smilingly looked at me and said "Dekho uncle T.V. dekh rahe hain,tum bhi jaake dekho".Fuck you pot head whose uncle am I.And for people who dont know about Virumaandi,it is a KamalHaasan movie and I neednt tell you what wouldnt be there in a kamal movie.It was just one of the scenes where kamal is sitting on the steps leading into a well and talking with the heroine,that the kid and her mother peep over my shoulder to see the T.V.And then there goes Kamal.Teary eyed,kamal gives a long smooch to the heroine.Long enough for the mother to throw a glance at me which I thought said something like "You child rapist asshole!".I cudnt do anything other than say "Chalo doosri picture dikhaata hoon"(I'll show u another movie).Her mom pulled her kid away and must've thought "this guy is some sophisticated kidnapper,he'll take video and photo of my kid and do something with it".Well what do I say?There was a middle aged couple travelling with me.It was then that I observed there were more no. of people than the no. of seats.It was dé·jà vu.I knew what was going to happen and what was coming.

In all likelyhood I would be asked to exchange my seat with someone sitting at the last compartment.People asking me to exchange seats thought it was very simple carrying my luggage all the way.They asked me stating reasons like I am youth(one second unc(u)le and next youth!) and I was single and blah blah.That was what exactly happened.
Middle Aged Woman(MAW):Are you travelling alone?
Me:No,me and my baggage
MAW:Oh,ur so funny..he he..Just like my hubby..i like funny people
Me:Sorry ur hubby is staring at me
MAW:Oh thats alrite.. c na me and my hubby have different seats..my hubby cant do without me..
There from the corner of my eye I saw her hubby looking at her and I thought it said something like "Lying bitch,she needs me for blowing her air pillow"
MAW:See we are old ppl and my coach is s14.... can u shift there?you are youth(Yuck) and u dont have any b'ful wife like me..so shift there na...
Me:yaa ok I'll move.
I was already thinking "s14 is a 1km jog..donno if i'll make it".So I started to bid farewall to my journey mates and as I was searching for my water bottle I muttered to myself "Were is the bottle?I kept it here only".Pat came the reply, this time almost in a robotic tone.Howling once again.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Line of Fire

Note:- This is my first attempt at writing a story(serious one).And another warning - it is terribly big.So hope you have the patience to read it and enjoy it.

"Shit,Not so fast",he thought.He was lying by the bushes,deep cuts over his hands courtesy the barbed wires.He was trapped in what they called the Chakravyooh.There was no escaping this time.But this was what he wanted all through these six months.He had always found himself ways to get killed but everytime it missed by a whisker.People around him mistook it for courage and valour.He had always walked right into death's mouth only to come unscathed each time.After all no one knew the reason behind his madness.There was always this veil of bravery and love for one's country shielding him.His madness was hidden behind that.That was what he loved the most-A place to hide.A place where no one knew his burning inner desires.A place where he could bury himself and his fears.He felt desparate by each passing day.It was just not happening for him.He had thrown himself thrice into the pitch of the battle hoping he would die and his misery would end.But for all his efforts he ended up saving 3 lives of his fellow countrymen."Bastards" he thought,when the squadron leader announced his name was being sent for the gallantry awards.An award to kill,an award to save and an award for getting killed.Same award for all fucking reasons."Fuck these awards", he kept murmuring."Even the Govt. seems to be propogating death" albeit it was others lives which mattered for the govt. unlike his.

As he was lying by the bushes,crawling all over his wounds his reasoning power seemed to go down.All he could think of was September 13.He remembered everything all too clear.He was a happy go lucky individual who even had the good fortune of falling in love with a wonderful girl.But that day everything fell apart from the seams."Pick the call,Pick the call" he was shouting for the nth time.This was his 21st call in the last 15 minutes.But either the call was cut or the phone was left buzzing.And then she picked the call and to his dismay all she uttered was "It is over,tell your parents and keep telling yourself also".He shook with horror when he realized the full impact of her statement.His mind was racing.What had gone wrong?What grave mistake did he do?Then it struck him.In his anxiety to make the road clear for him to live with her he had informed about their affair to all and sundry.Her father was getting the news through everyone except the guy."Thats it" she and her father decided.They decided to put a full stop to all this drama once and for all.Her dad informed him in no plain terms that he could never marry his daughter and when he said "But your daughter loves me" then come the bolt which left him high and dry at that moment.His love, in more plainer terms than her dad told "I never loved him,It was he who kept calling me even though I was against it".That was the final nail in the coffin.The issue was settled once and for all.All he had inside him was rage and an urge to finish himself.He tried calling her to explain himself and ask for a reason but all he got was "This Number is not accepting any calls at this moment,Please try again later".He kicked the turf,sent hate mails to her and called her a bitch.She replied back saying "You call the girl you were supposed to be madly in love as a bitch.There is nothing anymore".Once a bitch always a bitch, he cursed and spat.The bathroom was his refuge.He dint know whether it was the tears or the shower which was washing him.In sudden impulse he grabbed the Harpic bottle and thought he would wash down his intestines with it.But all he could do was fling the bottle away in frustration.The truth was out.In his own eyes he felt he was not man enough to take his own life.

The war was out.Blood was being spilled like water from a water tanker.The country needed more men.More men to kill,more men to die so that more awards could be given away.War according to him was the most cowardly and saddistic act ever known to mankind where unknown people kill known and unknown people.It was the perfect place for a coward like him to hide.He knew he would be definitely killed.And for all you know he might end up with a medal around his corpse which would instill false prestige in one's near and dear to him.The thought excited him.What a way to get killed.Which man would love to get his face unmasked and show his coward side to the world.He decided that was it and enrolled for the war under the garb of fighting for his country.Everytime he heard news that enemy was advancing his pulse would race and he would let out a satisfied smile.But alas it was not that simple.Getting killed in a war by the enemy wasnt happening for him.The bullets always dodged him.He never seemed capable of stepping on a landmine and neither could an enemy kill him bare handed when he was cornered all alone.It was getting to him.It was now or never.Within two days the Nothern Infantry would be moving in.Once that happened the enemy would definitely be vanquished.They wouldnt be able to even god damn fart without them being detected.

This was his best chance.He along with another proud patriot had been sent to monitor the enemy's weapon positions and artillery strength.But the proud patriot in an over zealous attempt to count the no. of pimples on his enemy's forehead put himself directly in the line of fire.He could see what had happened and just about caught a glimpse of a guard taking aim at the patriot."This is my chance", he told to himself between gritted teeth.He lunged at the patriot and pulled him down.It was exactly at that time he felt someone stab a hot iron rod through his chest.He was shot.Another shot was fired and it caught the patriot right on the head.He looked up in horror at the patriot.It was then that he realised that he had been the first one who had been shot.He felt his chest with his right hand and he saw blood oozing out."Shit,Not so fast",he thought.He was lying by the bushes,deep cuts over his hands courtesy the barbed wires.He was scared,he was frightened.There was no escaping this time.But this was what he wanted all through these six months.And now when confronted with it he was not experiencing pleasure nor was he seeing angels pouring wine down his throat.It was not that he did not want to die but he wanted to live for sometime,just some more time god damnit,he cursed silently.He wanted to die in the hospital bed not here.He wanted to see her for one last time.He wanted to embed her voice in his head for one last time.He couldnt die now,not now.Crawling over his battered body he evaded them one by one.His survival instincts were at the peak.He was dodging the bullets now.They seemed so near but he cared less.Battered and bruised he reached his batallion crawling all the way and gave the information to his commander.

He was rushed to the medical camp in a jiffy.As news about his heroics spread so did the word spread among his near and dear one's that their hero was breathing his last.His father arrived unshaven and with unkempt hair along with his mother who resembled a ghost.They knew they were loosing their precious gem.As his father patted his hair all he said was "I want to see her once dad.Take this as your son's last wish."By this time even she had heard the news about her love being in his last stages.She had mixed emotions.She dint want him to die but knew it dint matter if he lived as far as their relationship was concerned.She knew she had gone too far now to accept him back and her father's word was her holy grail.Then she heard her phone buzz and when she answered it she heard the voice of a broken man "Please come down once and speak to my son for a moment."She packed her bags and along with her father left to the medical camp.She pulled the screen and ducked into the dimly lit make shift tent.There she saw him,his eyes transfixed on her.He looked pale but there was no mistake of the fire in his eyes.She stooped forward and held his hand.He cried like a boy who got separated from his mom in the carnival.Atlast he said to himself.He looked up at his father gratefully for granting his last wish.He felt his hand slip away from hers.His whole body started to curl upwards.His breathing was heavy and he was trying to breathe with his mouth open.There he saw it.He saw tears rolling down her cheeks as she was clutching him.The pain was now beyond any measurable parameters.There was one final upward curl and he flopped downwards slowly.Her shrieks seemed to be like loud ambulance sirens to him.It was echoing and the intensity was reducing.And then one drop of tear trickled down her cheek into his gaping mouth.He felt the angels pouring wine down his throat.The dying man had got his last drop of water.And then there was silence.His hand fell away as if in slow motion from hers.His eyes were closed.He was gone.
May his soul rest in peace.
Amen
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